Fly beyond with François Thibault
There are few things that make a more perfect pairing than a warm night and an exquisite cocktail. As days grow longer so does the desire to host friends for an après-work drink on the patio or a weekend at the cottage.
-By Megan West
At the helm of Grey Goose headquarters in Paris is François Thibault, who 19 years after creating the original recipe remains a key innovator in the success of the brand. Conducting over 500 quality control checks each day, similar to what a chef would do in a kitchen, François and his team are dedicated to nothing if not the quality of their products. Speaking with François, it was evident that his passion for his craft has guided him thus far. “In my wildest dreams, I never imagined myself working on a project like Grey Goose,” he says, but cites schooling, his ambitions, and doing something “beyond my imagination” as three key components in his life.
Thibault dealt with initial backlash to launching a vodka in France. He jokingly cautions us to “not believe everything you read on the internet,” but does in fact recall two distinct criticisms: One of which was the claim that there wasn’t enough wheat in France (which is of course laughable as a region close to Paris actually produces 7% of the worlds wheat) and the other being that creating a product as unique as Grey Goose would be impossible without additives. “I was much more focused on the experience of building Grey Goose and creating vodka in France than I was on the criticism,” he says.
His focus on his personal experience as opposed to what was going on around him is refreshing, considering how easy it is in todays’ social media fixated era to become wrapped up in the chaos of our respective industries. For those still working towards career goals, “believe in your instinct and believe in your craftsmanship and not cut corners to achieve that dream,” François urges. “To quote Mark Twain: ‘if you don’t know it’s impossible, then it’s possible.’”
Having recently launched Grey Goose VX, a decadent blend of 5% cognac and 95% vodka, we asked about the most unique and Parisian way to enjoy it. “Right now I would suggest marrying Grey Goose VX with a very light ice cream,” says Thibault. “The freshness and coldness from the ice cream is a very nice enhancement to the light cognac that is in VX … The ice cream really wakes up the little bit of cognac.”
When it comes to spring and summer cocktails, those like Presse (Grey goose, lemon juice, and a little bit of sugar and soda) and Le Fizz (Grey Goose, St-Germain elderflower liqueur, freshly squeezed lime juice and soda water) are his top suggestions. Thibault suggests veering towards cocktails that have less sugar, because they’re less heavy and a little more crisp than fall or winter cocktails.
Asked his personal favourite time to enjoy a cocktail, he replies simply “with friends,” though he elaborates that he does loves using the lemons from his garden for a Presse. Thibault seems to have mastered the elusive work-life balance, never losing sight of the small moments that create a lasting impact in one’s life. His best advice: “If you want to be creative, you have to let the imagination loose.”